Writing at Slate, Will Oremus considers the trajectory of America's recent push to high-speed rail, and observes that it never really had a chance.
"Spread across 10 corridors, each between 100 and 600 miles long, Obama's rail system would have been, at best, a disjointed patchwork. The nation's most gridlocked corridor, along the East Coast between Washington, D.C. and Boston, was left out of the plans entirely. Worse, much of the money was allocated to projects that weren't high-speed rail at all.
If there's a silver lining to high-speed rail's spectacular failure, it's that these trains were outdated years ago. Even if all went according to the Obama administration's plans, the nation's rail network would have remained meager and backward by comparison to those in Japan and China. Those countries are already building trains that run via magnetic levitation. At this point in their development, maglev tracks are dauntingly expensive to build. But those costs might well come down by the time America is ready to get serious about its transportation infrastructure. At this rate, there seems to be plenty of time."